Steel Spike participates in training to teach Soldiers combatives

By Spc. Kelly AcevedoMarch 29, 2023

Mark Leslie, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security director, demonstrates fighting positions. The positions including front headlock, escape from a rear headlock, front choke and a rear choke.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Mark Leslie, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security director, demonstrates fighting positions. The positions including front headlock, escape from a rear headlock, front choke and a rear choke.
(Photo Credit: Karen Sampson)
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FORT POLK, La — All Soldiers learn hand-to-hand combat and weapons training, essential skills taught to prepare Soldiers to defeat the enemy in combat through modern Army combatives.
Although this technique is taught and used throughout the Army, a new way to fight — linear involuntary neural-override engagement system — was introduced to Soldiers of the 46th Engineer Battalion “Steel Spike” by instructor Mark Leslie, Directorate of Plans, Training,
Mobilization and Security director.
Leslie, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, introduced the Soldiers to LINES, a fighting technique composed of martial arts that is used for fighting in combat. The United States Marine Corps adopted the system from 1989 to 1998 followed by Army Special Forces from 1998 to 2007.
The training opportunity began in January and ends in December for a total for 12 sessions during physical readiness training on the unit’s foundation days. The most recent session was held March 10 at Fort Polk’s Spike Field.
Leslie completed LINES in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he served in 1992. He has continued to teach Soldiers the system to this day.
“It’s a great system for a Soldier in full combat equipment to execute. You can integrate this with the Army’s combatives system too. It’s an additional set of tools for the Soldier’s rucksack,” Leslie said.
Combined techniques from LINES with the modern Army combatives develops life-saving skills if faced with a situation where someone would not have a weapon to defend themselves.
The Marine Corps believes there are four levels of warfare: bombs, bullets, blades and bodies. As the last resort for a Soldier to survive against an enemy, they would need to use their body when nothing else can be used as a weapon.
Capt. Sarah Hoyte, Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander, 46th Engineer
Battalion, coordinated with Leslie to increase combat effectiveness and lethality.
“This training gives Soldiers a different perspective on combat training. It offers additional tools for their tool kit, especially for when trying to neutralize the enemy,” Hoyt said.
Hoyt appreciates Leslie for taking time to train with the unit.
The session included four moves for the Soldiers to learn: escape from a front headlock, escape from a rear headlock, conduct a front choke and a rear choke. The focus was the front headlock.
“I want to make sure they get that right with no mistakes because for the next session they’re going to walk me through it. They need to show that they have attained a level of proficiency and can teach someone else. That’s the whole point of the program,” Leslie said.
This time around, the Soldiers had to do multiple swarms, a type of attack a group attempts against an individual or smaller group.
Soldiers were divided into groups of five, with one standing in the center to be attacked. Once each Soldier was attacked, the real fun began.
They were once again divided. This time, four stations 100 meters apart from each other were composed of four to five Soldiers while the rest were expected to run to each station and defend themselves from the swarm of attacks. Although already tired, the skills they learned still benefited them.
Once a Soldier successfully progressed through all the stations, they were physically exhausted.
“Before, they didn’t have to run or do multiple swarms. So, they obtained a baseline level of proficiency. Today we increased conditions like all good Army training. As you get proficient you make it more difficult,” Leslie said.
Spc. Austin Gray, HCC, 46th Eng Bn, trained for the first time with Leslie. He enjoyed the experience and felt he learned something new.
“It’s cool to switch it up and learn something different. This training aspect will lead to improving self defense,” Gray said.
Gray is looking forward to the following sessions. Staff Sgt. Miller Benjamin, HHC, 46th Eng Bn, completed the recent sessions and wants to continue to progress in the training.
“I feel that I have already learned a lot. I like how it’s more specific. My favorite move is the neck choke and how to get out of it,” Benjamin said.
Leslie quoted Bruce Lee to motivate everyone. “I don’t fear a man who knows a thousand kicks. I fear a man who can kick a thousand times.”
If you are a leader who is interested in training your unit in hand-to-hand combat, contact Mark Leslie at for more information.